Giant asteroid 3200 Phaethon will pass close to Earth

A 3-mile-wide asteroid called 3200 Phaethon is set to fly close to Earth in December.


NSFW    SPACE — NASA has announced that a giant space rock will be passing close to Earth next month, but assures everyone that the fly-by is friendly, and not cause for concern.

CBS reports that 3200 Phaethon is an asteroid with a diameter of 3 miles that has been labelled 'potentially dangerous' because its orbit crosses paths with the Earth.

Phaeton will be the closest to Earth on December 16, when it is projected to be within 6.4 million miles or 27 lunar distances of our planet. It hasn't gotten this close since 1974, and isn't expected to swing by again until 2093.

Phaethon may be named after a Greek demigod who nearly destroyed Earth, but those worried about a catastrophic collision can rest easy, since the giant rock is in a relatively stable orbit, and isn't a threat.

Astronomers believe the asteroid to be the parent body for the annual Geminid meteor shower, which happens when the Earth passes through Phaethon's debris field.
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